Tributes Pour in as Jewish World Mourns Passing of Former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
The Jewish world was in mourning on Saturday evening as it learned of the passing of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks — the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and one of the most celebrated public intellectuals of the last 20 years.
Lord Sacks, who was 72, had been diagnosed with cancer last month. Sacks had been treated for the disease on two previous occasions.
Sacks was Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth between 1991 and 2013. He was the author of over 30 books. His most recent title, “Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times,” was published this year.
Rabbi Sacks was knighted in 2005 and made a Life Peer in 2009.
Tributes to Rabbi Sacks were led by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Johnson said he was “deeply saddened by the passing of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. His leadership had a profound impact on our whole country and across the world. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and the Jewish community. May his memory be a blessing.”
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who succeeded Sacks, said the world had “lost a Torah luminary and intellectual giant who had a transformative global impact.”
Rabbi Sacks was “an extraordinary ambassador for Judaism, helping many to understand and be proud of their heritage,” Mirvis said. “He will be deeply missed, not just within the Jewish world, which benefited immeasurably from his teachings, but far more widely, by all those whose lives he enlightened with his wisdom, profundity and inspiration.”
The Church of England’s leading cleric — Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — paid tribute to Sacks as having been that “rare combination – profound depth, and equally profound commitment to relating with others – that made the leadership he offered possible.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also paid tribute to Sacks.
“Rabbi Sacks bravely faced difficult questions and always found the right words to illuminate the Torah and explain its paths,” Rivlin said. “We will always remember his warnings against violence in the name of God, and his belief that we have the power to heal a fractured world.”
Yad Vashem mourns the loss of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. @rabbisacks worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Jewish nation worldwide. Rabbi Sacks was a true friend of Yad Vashem, working together to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to fight antisemitism worldwide. pic.twitter.com/CvgeW0WLoL
— Yad Vashem (@yadvashem) November 7, 2020
This is shocking news and a great loss to Britain & the world. Jonathan Sacks helped me think, learn and understand over 25 years of conversations. One of his books was “To heal a fractured world”. Now we have to do it without his presence. But we have his teaching. https://t.co/hWwekWsIMc
— David Miliband (@DMiliband) November 7, 2020
"Jonathan was a wonderful friend, a beloved mentor, a philosopher of extraordinary insight & of course a religious leader respected well beyond the Jewish community & well beyond the shores of Britain."
Read Tony Blair's tribute to Rabbi Lord Sackshttps://t.co/g4O9RVxPnU
— Tony Blair Institute (@InstituteGC) November 7, 2020